Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Financial Management

Committee Chair

Dr. Urton Anderson

Executive Summary

Undocumented immigrant workers have a significant presence and impact on the economy of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. However, it is difficult to fully understand their financial impact due to the scarcity of published statistics on this topic. In addition, undocumented immigrants try to live unnoticed due to the nature of their legal status and fear of deportation. Some nonprofit organizations and a few public institutions have been able to track data related to their tax contributions, population size, ages, work fields, spending habits, and public resources used. Gathering the available data will help better understand the financial impact of undocumented immigrants in Kentucky. Although limited, the articles published by nonprofit organizations and public institutions provide data to quantitate, analyze, and ultimately aid in understanding the financial impact that undocumented immigrants have on the Commonwealth. The data about their tax filings can provide an opportunity to measure the financial impact through state and local government revenues. Their contribution to the workforce in the leading industries in the state can provide an idea of the areas in which they make their most significant impact as workers. Their spending habits and consumption power to local the economy provide a picture of their impact on local businesses and financial growth. Finally, the public resources they utilize provide a statistical estimate of their financial burden on state and local public services. The Commonwealth of Kentucky had a combined state and local budget of $46 billion for a population of 4.5 million in the fiscal year 2021, per the US Census Bureau. Four percent of the total population in Kentucky are foreign-born immigrants, according to the American Immigration Council (AIC). In addition, at least 3% of Kentucky’s population has at least one foreign-born immigrant parent, per the AIC. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that undocumented immigrants are close to 46,000 individuals as of 2019, and they accounted for 1% of the total population in Kentucky. The majority of undocumented immigrants (67%) were born in Mexico and countries in Central America like Guatemala and Honduras, as published by the MPI. Other smaller percentages of undocumented immigrants come from Asia, Africa, Europe, Canada, and Oceania, as per the MPI.



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